Santa Claus in Different Languages

During the Holiday Season, one man and only one is the centre of attention. Flying in the sky on his magic sleigh, distributing presents all over the world and bringing joy in each home, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus. Ever wonder what Santa is called in different countries?

Here’s your answer (with the literal translation in brackets afterwards if needed) & remember, if you need anything else translated our document translation service is here for you.

Brazil Brazil – Papai Noel

Chile Chile – Viejo Pascuero (Old Man Christmas)

China China – Dun Che Lao Ren (Christmas Old Man)

Denmark Denmark – Julemanden

Finland Finland – Joulupukki

France France – Père Noël

Germany Germany – Weihnachtsmann (Christmas Man)

Greece Greek – Άγιος Βασίλης

Hungary Hungary – Mikulas (St. Nicholas)

Italy Italy – Babbo Natale

Japan Japan – Hoteiosho (A god or priest bearing gifts)

Norway Norway – Julenissen (Christmas gnome)

Poland Polish –  Święty Mikołaj

Portugal Portugal – Pai Natal

Spain Spain – Papa Noel

Romania Romania – Mos Craciun

Russia Russia – Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost)

Turkey Turkey – Noel Baba

Santa Around the World

Santa Claus is the most universally recognised figure around the world, adopted by differing cultures, many of which never see snow from year to year. One of the reasons for his, or her, popularity is the ability to merge with local gift giving customs, resulting in a multitude of hybrids with their own unique traits.

The origin of the story is traced back to Saint Nicholas, born in the Turkish town of Patara and who died in 350AD, having travelled around Roman controlled Palestine and Egypt. He was renowned for his anonymous gifts of gold coins to the needy and this has been traditionally celebrated on the 6th December.

Father Christmas personifies the British version of the tale, dating back to the reign of Henry VIII, and representing the spirit of Christmas. This was reinvented by the Victorians when the Queen popularised the traditions of her German consort Albert, including the first Christmas tree, under which presents too big for stockings, magically appear.

Sinnterklaas in Holland

SinterklaasThe pronunciation of Saint Nicholas in Dutch can be phonetically spelled ‘Sinnterklaas’ from which Santa Claus was derived as settlers headed across to the new lands of America, mixing with many other cultural influences. The gift giving became associated with the Magi, the three wise men who visited the birth of Christ, with German and Scandinavian influences favouring the 24th December.

Iconic pictures and literature became the established version of Santa Claus in a world short of multi-media. The poem ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’ in 1823 set the story of arriving by sleigh on roof tops and climbing down chimneys, while a black and white print by political cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1881 portrays the jolly man in fur lined robes that everyone recognises today. Contrary to urban myth it was not Coca Cola who first changed Santa’s robes from green to red but White Rock Beverages, but it was the former’s brand awareness that made the change permanent.

Today the Dutch version of Sinterklaas retains a close link to the story’s origins and has a much darker side than most. Assisted by Zwarte Piet, he arrives from Spain by boat and then spends three weeks travelling round the country delivering presents to good children by dropping them down chimneys. Those that are found to be on the naughty list are reputedly whipped and thrown into sacks before being carted back to Spain. In the Alpine region of Europe Zwarte Piet is a minor villain compared to Krampus (the Claw) who travels with Santa spreading chaos and misery amongst sinners. He has his own feast day, the fifth of December, when people dress up to scare and play pranks on each other.

Papai Noel in Brazil

Papai-NoelPapai Noel takes over the role in Brazil, with typical flair and style in a country fond of Carnival. Swapping fur trimmed velvet for a more tropical red silk suit he arrives by helicopter at the Maracanã football stadium a few days before Christmas, which is packed with expectant children. Since most houses in the country are built without chimneys the children leave shoes outside to be filled with sweets.

Elsewhere in South America it is el Niño Jesus, the infant Jesus, who brings presents to Mexico, Columbia and Costa Rica. While in Puerto Rico there is a second day of celebration on the Epiphany, to celebrate when the Magi arrive bearing gifts. Children place grass under their beds for the camels on which they travel, and awake to find their kindness rewarded.

Japan, Italy and Sweden

In Japan the Christmas period is traditionally a time for performing charitable work but at New Year the figure of Hoteiosho appears as a fat monk with eyes in the back of his head to spot whether children are being well behaved or not. He carries with him a sack full of toys to reward those he sees fit.

In Italy one of the original pagan characters still survives, a witch who goes by the name of La Befana, who might arrive on Christmas Day or the Epiphany, depending upon the region. A benevolent soul, she brings gifts of sweets and dried fruit, which she leaves in the socks of good children, all others receive a lump of coal as a mark of her displeasure.

For Sweden it is the Julbock, the Christmas goat, who is credited with bringing presents and festive cheer. His origins are derived from the stories of the Norse God Thor, who used two goats Taningnjost and Tanngrisner to pull his chariot through the air, a method of transport that sounds vaguely familiar.

Ded Moroz and Sengurochka

Ded Moroz & SengurochkaThe territories of Eastern Europe are presided over by Ded Moroz, Grandfather Frost, who is assisted by his grand-daughter Sengurochka, the Snow Girl. Carrying a magical staff he travels in a traditional sleigh, drawn by three horses running side by side. Moroz is renowned to have a split personality, rewarding generously those he finds to be honest and hard working, but punishing pitilessly those who are immoral and lazy. He is also known as a highly skilled smith, whose powers include chaining the waters with iron frosts.

So wherever in the World you are this Christmas, Santa Claus and his associates will be visiting somewhere close to you. The concept of rewards for the good and punishment for the bad have been part of folklore for millennia, Saint Nicholas just happens to be the figure to have bound them all together.

Tracking Santa

For the last couple of years you can track Santa around the world using Google, more accurately using the Google Santa Tracker. Its a handy little tool to help the kids (and big kids) watch were he’s been on the big night and the estimated time of arrival at your location (obviously you have to be asleep when he actually comes down your chimney or the magic won’t happen).

track santa with Google

And (bonus) if you go there now there’s an advent calendar with a new game each day to help you pass the time away.


Happy Christmas and all the Best for 2014

We’re closing the office in ten minutes which just gives me enough time to thank all our readers of the language blog for all the support in 2013 and wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2014. We have lots of new things planned for 2014 and know you’ll all be part of it.

Thank you.

Happy Xmas from K International

Merry Christmas 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone we’ve worked with for helping to make this year one of the most exciting in K International’s history. We couldn’t have done it without such great clients or without our team of expert linguists. We look forward to building new partnerships throughout 2015 and continuing our commitment to delivering the best service in the industry.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Enjoy the Holidays!

K International wish everyone we've worked with in 2014 a very Merry Christmas

Treat your overseas friends with a Christmas greeting in their own language:

Dear Santa…

This is yet another email I am sending to you. I somehow cannot give up on hope, nearly thirty years on.

How have you been?

Did you read the “Prevent Diabetes Today!” leaflet I sent to you last month? Don’t take it personally, I just saw your picture on a tin of candies. You obviously put on a little weight, didn’t you? Here is an idea for a New Year resolution 🙂

On the other hand, some diet and exercise may work miracles, especially now when you’ve found your second half. Huh! How do I know about it?

The other week some lady aged around 60 said she liked my scarf very much. It was the one you got me for last Christmas, remember? When I said I got it from you, her eyes sparkled and she smiled kindly. I am not easy to fool, so I caught the drift.

Please tell me, is it very difficult to maintain such a long distance relationship?

Anyway, as usual, please find attached a signed list of all my good deeds for 2010 (plus the last week of 2009). Last year’s lot was sent to you via email, I am afraid ‘good deeds09.xls’ bounced back to me. I realised that only this month.

I assume the recession must have hit your pocket too. Therefore I kept my wish list is as short as possible. BTW, are you cutting heads and employ fewer helpers now?

I also hope you didn’t switch to airways. The airports are not very reliable at the moment to be honest, even though the tickets are sometimes dirt-cheap. Read more

merry christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

As another year draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our readers & everyone we’ve worked with in 2016. It’s been an exciting year for us at K International and we couldn’t have done it without such great clients and all the exceptional linguists that worked with us. We look forward to building new partnerships throughout the New Year and continuing our commitment to delivering the best services in the industry.


We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Enjoy the Holidays!

Read more

All I want for Christmas

It’s the 25th of November today and in exactly 1 month, it will be Christmas! I can’t believe that this year went so quick… You get caught up in your daily routine and often birthdays, weddings or celebrations come quicker than you first thought. I realise that I have 30 days to buy the presents for my family, to be honest with you guys, I’m stressing out!! Because we live in a society of consumption, people already have what they want and it’s become harder each year to find original and unique gifts to offer. I regret these times when putting an orange underneath the Christmas tree used to make kids happy! Now they are all about PlayStation, Apple devices, designer clothes or fancy bags. (Same with adults really)

So today, I took my mission very seriously and surfed the web for a couple of hours looking for some unusual ideas. Because if you are an avid reader of this blog, you must be interested in travels and languages, I found the top 10 Christmas gifts especially for you guys.

1. A Language course

Very useful if you plan of moving to another country next year.

2. Lonely Planet ‘s “Best in Travel 2011”

Best guide ever, I remember I bought one when I went to Australia.

3. Lessons in foreign cooking

Be the next Chinese/French or Italian Chef 🙂

4. A Trailfinders gift card

Helping you out with the cost of your flight or hotel.

5. A pocket translator

Always handy to translate some easy sentences like a menu, directions or features.

6. Downloadable language learning tools for your iPod

For all of you guys sleeping, eating and breathing Apple!

7. A Travel journal

Record your amazing adventures and experiences.

8. A Charity donation in your name

It’s good to do something for others.

9. A Dictionary/book of verb tables

Not very exciting but indispensable to your survival abroad.

10. A TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

Become a teacher and hopefully get a visa downunder.

Which one are you going to ask to Santa Claus? And why?

Japan fbomb

No matter where you are these days, it seems that holiday advertising has become increasingly in-your-face: flashing lights, signs that shout at you, and of course Christmas carols played at the highest possible volume starting sometime around Halloween. Leave it to a department store in Japan (where else?) to take it to the next level.

Two readers of the Japanese Subculture blog were strolling around Shinsaibashi, Osaka, when they came upon a store having a New Year’s sale that featured deals so huge that apparently the only way the store could properly advertise them was to festoon their signs with one of comedian George Carlin’s seven dirty English words. As Japanese Subculture’s Jake Adelstein so eloquently put it, this was “no ordinary sale- it’s an effin sale!” Read more

The Legend behind the Candy Canes

Which images pop up in your mind when you hear the word “Christmas”? My guess would be red and white, Santa Claus, Christmas tree, snow, presents, fireplace, great food, family….and candy canes! These delicious candies with their weird shape and unique taste are a must during Christmas time and bring some colours in your tree or on your table. For some reason, i always thought that they came from America as they are not very popular in France as far as i know, same in England it seems. After few searches on the Internet, i realise that candy canes were first born in Germany and then mass- produced in the States years later.

Not sure if it’s a legend or the actual true story but apparently everything started about 230 years ago at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany where children who used to go there with their parents used to be very loud and noisy, never listening to the choirmaster. In order to keep them quiet, the choirmaster decided to give them some long, white, sugar candy stick. (we all know that kids would do anything for candy!) To make it funnier, he bent the candy sticks to make them look like a shepherd’s cane, such as the shepherds present at Jesus’ birth. According to the legend, that’s where come from the shape of the candy , also representing the “J” for Jesus…

In 1847, a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio put candy canes on his Christmas tree and soon others were doing the same. Sometime around 1900 candy canes came to look more like what we know them as today with the red stripes and peppermint flavoring.

Finally, around 1920, a guy in Georgia named Bob McCormack, who wanted to make candy canes for his family and friends, started mass-producing candy canes for his own business which he named Bob’s Candies. This is where many of our candy canes come from today!


K International Christmas Present Hunt

K International Christmas Present Hunt

Christmas is coming and our social team have been really busy getting ready for everyone’s favourite office event, that’s right you guessed it, it’s Secret Santa! To make sure we didn’t open all the gifts early, the team craftily hid them in and around our website, but with all the excitement they forgot where… Luckily they had […]

5 Creepy Christmas Traditions from Around the World

‘Tis the season to be jolly…but in some parts of the world, Christmas isn’t all “Jingle Bells”  and “Fa La La La’s.” Here are 5 Christmas traditions from around the world that are more creepy than festive.

1. Austria and other Alpine Countries – The Krampus

If you’re good, Santa Claus brings you presents. If you’re bad, he gives you coal or possibly even a switch for your parents to beat you with, right? Right. Unless you live in certain Alpine regions in Europe, including Austria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia. There, the bad kids have to contend with the Krampus, a nightmarish horned demon who basically acts as Santa’s enforcer. The Krampus distributes coal, bundles of birch twigs called “ruten,” and sometimes carries a washtub in which he drowns bad children so he can eat them. Read more